30th November 2014 | IGT Challenge Tour
Ahlers claims emotional win in Cape Town
CAPE TOWN (30 November 2014) – Jaco Ahlers aged nearly 10 years in the four extra trips it took him down 18th hole at Royal Cape Golf Club before he could lift the Lion of Africa Cape Town Open title in a three-way play-off on Sunday.
“I can’t describe how happy I am right now,” said an emotional Ahlers. “I’ve come so close so many times in the last five years, but I never thought I would have to work so hard for a win.
“This is life-changing for me. I turned 32 last week, but right now, I feel about 40 years old. But it’s a happy 40 years”
The Centurion golfer fired a four-under-par 68 to set the early clubhouse target at 12-under-par 276.
Englishman Ross McGowan matched his 68 and the play-off party grew to three after joint overnight leader Hennie Otto boxed a 35-foot pressure putt for birdie and a final round even-par.
Otto caught the fairway bunker during the first extra trip down the 352 meter, par-four 18th.
The three-time European Tour winner came up well short of the green and missed a long putt to match the pars from McGowan and Ahlers.
Ahlers and McGowan went down the 18th two more times, but the dead-lock continued.
On the fourth tour down the 18th, McGowan hit his approach to the open side of the green, while Ahlers attacked the flag with a pitching wedge out of the semi-rough and hit it 10-feet past the hole.
McGowan left his birdie putt at the third play-off hole in the jaws and, putting from the same spot, his fourth effort raced just past the hole.
Facing his best opportunity yet, Ahlers had the distance and line, but didn’t hit the putt hard enough and it turn left just before the hole. He tapped in for par, and was getting ready for another trip back to the 18th tee when McGowan’s par putt horse-shoed.
His opponent’s bogey meant Ahlers claimed the biggest victory of his career.
The Pretoria professional competed in the IGT Tour’s Battle of the Giants at Glendower Golf Club last week to get primed for the R1.5-million event and tied for fourth at the South African Open Championship venue.
He was well off the pace with an opening 71, but battled his way into contention with subsequent rounds of 69 and 68 and started the final round four strokes behind 54-hole pacesetters Otto and Danie van Tonder.
“It’s been a very long year, but I just kept trying and trying,” Ahlers said.
“Now I’m going to Sun City. What a birthday present! That is a life-long dream come true. I have to give Ross and Hennie credit, though. We all got into the play-off because we played great golf, but I’m sorry boys; I’m going to enjoy this one.”